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Wolverine Blues

Gene Rodemich's Orchestra


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Gene Rodemich Plays
Jelly Roll Morton


Recorded in Chicago on June 21st 1923 featuring Clarence Foster and Charles Werner cornets, Larry Conley trombone, Bill Bailey clarinet & sax, Allister Wylie sax & piano, Jules Silverburg sax, Gene Rodemich piano & leader, Otto Reinert violin, Porter Brown banjo, Joe Zotterella tuba, and Paul Spohrleder drums.

*"Wolverine Blues" words and music by Ferd Morton, Benjamin Spikes, and John Spikes.

Originally titled "The Wolverines", the Melrose Brothers Music Publishing Company thought it would sell better commercially if the word "blues" was added into the title. "Wolverine Blues" as it came to be known was Jelly Roll Morton's first successful recorded hit even though this recording by "Gene Rodemich's Orchestra" was one of the earliest versions. Others band's to commit early versions of the tune to record that year included the "New Orleans Rhythm Kings", "Frank Westphal and His Orchestra", the "Benson Orchestra of Chicago", and a solo piano rendition by Morton himself recorded in July for Gennett.

Eugene Rodemich was born in St. Louis in 1890 where he began his musical career as a pianist, and later became a dance orchestra conductor. He was accompanist to actress and singer Elsie Janis on numerous tours, including one of Europe. During the early 1920's he recorded for Brunswick and for a three year period was director and master of ceremonies at the Metropolitan Theater in Boston. Then in 1929 Gene moved to New York City where he started a career in radio. Eventually Rodemich wound up as the musical director for Van Beuren Studios and composed the music for animated cartoons. He also wrote the score for Frank Buck's first picture produced in 1932 titled "Bring 'Em Back Alive".

In 1934 Gene Rodemich became ill while his Orchestra was being recorded accompanying a National Broadcasting Company program on Sunday nights. In spite of having been stricken with a severe cold he insisted on continuing. But this poor choice would prove fatal and on February 24th 1934 Gene was taken to a local Medical Arts Sanitarium where he died from lobar pneumonia three days later.

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